An authentic view of the Gubbi Gubbi people of Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay and Burnett Mary Regions.
Facts & Fiction


There are many purported stories being told by people trying to establish their claim on the basis of being "traditional" or a "custodian" or as an "elder". These stories need to rejected as unsubstantiated nonsense. The issue is that they tend to get accepted as they present a romantic or vivid impression. However it is important to know real history of the Gubbi Gubbi people, not the history of South Sea Islanders or Torres Strait or Northern Queensland Indigenous Groups. If you are not sure simply check with DATSIMA (QLD Ministry of Indigenous Affairs who will provide you with correct information) Cultural Heritage Unit Phone 07 3405 3050

It is widely represented that the name “Noosa” is derived from the Aboriginal “noothera” or “gnuthuru” meaning shade or shadow.

Looking through the SCRC list of place names it says "The Aboriginal people called Noosa Head, Wantima, meaning rising up or climbing up (Petrie). The name first used by white people was Bracefield’s Head or Cape Bracefield. This was as a result of an exploratory party involving Andrew Petrie and others finding the runaway convict, Bracefield, living with the Kabi Kabi people in the area in 1842.

However it came to be given a permanent name of Aboriginal derivation meaning shade or shadow. * Noothera or Gnuthuru = shadow or shady place.

Dr Eve Fesl, OAM, CM Ph D, a Gubbi Gubbi Language speaker with a Doctorate in linguistics, states that none of the words Noosa, noothera or gnuthuru are real words and are not part of the Gubbi Gubbi language. The consonant “s” is absent in all Gubbi Gubbi words.

So where does the name “Noosa” come from? Well if we go back to Nancy Cato’s book the big clue is in there in the form of a map! Nancy tells the Noosa name story which is possibly the popular origin of the legend. But her book, on p.19, carries a map as below.

Look closely at the first official map
and you will see Nusa River and Nusa

“Laguna bay and Nusa Harbour, 1870. Traced form Captain Heath’s plan. (By courtesy Department of Harbours and Marine, Brisbane).

The less romantic but most probable source of the name Noosa is really much simpler and more straightforward than any other explanation, it comes from the Indonesian word for Island - Nusa.

In the past Indonesian boats would travel down the east Coast of Australia. They perceived Noosa to be an island and so used the Indonesian word Nusa (island). Recall over the past history of the Noosa River that its channels might have run as far south as Peregian Beach. Captain Cook when sailing by  failed to even spot the Noosa River.

Looking more closely at the claimed Indigenous words using “Aboriginal Place Names’ published by A W Reed first in 1967

1. There is no listing of “Noosa” (there is Noona and Noora).

2. The listed aboriginal word for shadow is “onkaparinga”.

3. The listed aboriginal words for Shade and shady are “balatquitting, broomoing, marloognunah, mongoluring, mooldup and mowla”.

4. The closest word to the commonly proclaimed is nutheramnatherann which means a pleasant valley.

5. There is no sibilant "s" in the Gubbi Gubbi language (otherwise we might call Cootharaba Coosaraba which is silly or if we believed Beverly Hands "la" as meaning place of then it would be Coosarala)!

On the other hand we know that Indonesian boats sailed down the Queensland coastline. In fact they went as far south as Adelaide where the Government legislated the taking of "sea cucumber" and trading with "the local Aborigines".

People, who call themselves Kabi Kabi, perpetrate a myth and their lack of understanding of Gubbi Gubbi Culture and Heritage and language when they present Nancy Cato's story as authentic.

Click on Heading and go to:



Undumbi (And similarly spelt names)

Because of the value attributed to Traditional Ownership there are people who try to establish tribal names usually for commercial gain.

Undumbi was the name of a single person (Man) who lived primarily in Tewantin. His European name was John Brown.

The name Undumbi, as a tribal group, is not accepted by Gubbi Gubbi Elders nor the Federal Court where a claim for Native Title using this name was dismissed. The concept of "Undumbi Day" where "Undumbi" is presented as a tribe is entirely untrue. (Much the same analysis applies to a group trying to establish Ningi Ningi as a tribal group).

The fact is a claim for native title, under the name "Undumbi" was rejected by the Federal Court! The judgement was based on the inability to support the claim with valid data, the judge indicated that the claimant was involved in three other claims and also indicated the information provided by the Gubbi Gubbi people was authoritative and reliable. Perhaps the local councils ought to be asking for validation of native title claims, particularly when it comes to people like Peter Bird, a Mackay man and Gene Blow from Melbourne (has anybody checked Melbourne and Perth references?). All a Council has to do is check with DATSIMA or ask the Federal Court to confirm the judgement.

The Court's decision can be viewed at:

Click here to read an article from the Redcliffe Herald where claims are made about Undumbi land, 10 years after the failure of the Federal Court claim failed.

The use of the Undumbi name to gather funds for activities is not acceptable but if the claims are accepted then penalties under Culture and Heritage laws can apply and they are severe.

Peter Bird and Gene Blow are not Gubbi Gubbi traditional owners. However much they may argue, a fact is a fact, and people who use them for traditional welcomes or other traditional activities are insulting Traditional Owners.

Undumbi was a Gubbi Gubbi man, not a tribe, whose European name was John or King Brown.

The claim was based on the Norman B Tindale published maps and boundaries. He documented a conversation of which the basic facts have never been tested. They have been used by some to seek financial advantage.

1. The South Australian Museum warns in relation to Tindale
"Please be aware that much of the data relating to Aboriginal language group distribution and definition has undergone revision since 1974" the date of publication of Tindale's book.

2. AusAnthrop in relation to Undumbi
"Place and geographical locations that are often associated to this group.
Please note that these are places that were or are mentioned in the literature, some are inaccurate. Under no circumstances can this list be used in the context of any sorts of claims, indigenous or not."

3. An application for Native Title made by the people claiming to be "Undambi" in 1997 was not accepted by the Federal Courts in 1999. In the record one of the claimants was mentioned as having two other land title claims under different tribal names - three tribal claims altogether.

The people promoting "Undumbi Day" are not from this area and are self appointing themselves as Elders of the supposed "Undumbi" tribe.


From the Redcliffe herald 2009  Peter Bird peddles nonsense 10 years after the federal Court has rejected his Undumbi claim!


The future of the proposed Queensland Sports Museum and other major developments could be in jeopardy after the Peninsula’s traditional owners will decide whether to pursue legal action against developers who have disturbed soil on the Peninsula without notifying them.

Peter Bird, elder of the Undumbi people - which originate from areas east of Pine River and north to Caboulture - said his community was tired of not being consulted on large-scale developments on ``their’’ land.

He said under the Native Title Act and Cultural Heritage Act they were entitled to be a party to negotiations.

``Where there is a disruption of soil it is required they must have in the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) notified us,’’ he said.

``I’m just tired of all of these developments going on and not being consulted.’‘

Mr Bird said there were no plans to take legal action at this stage.

``We can take legal action against it, that’s up to the Undumbi people, I will report back to them and call a meeting,’’ he said.

Mr Bird’s concerns were raised after the unveiling of plans for the Queensland Sports Museum at Talobilla Park, Kippa Ring.

He said he was similarly angered by the lack of consultation during planning for the redevelopment of the Mango Hill golf course, new commercial and housing estates, Redcliffe skate park and the Houghton Highway duplication.

He said the Peninsula was an important area for the indigenous tribes of south-east Queensland and the QSM site could contain remains of meeting places, yarn circles, bones and middens.

According to its website, the National Native Title Tribunal has not registered the peninsula as traditional land of the Undumbi people.

QSM chairman Tom Maule said the site had already been developed.

``It was already developed years ago as a land fill and it’s used as sporting fields now, I think it’s a bit late to be worried about these things,’’ Mr Maule said.

State Member for Redcliffe Lillian van Litsenburg said the Department of Transport and Main Roads was required to engage local aboriginal people on indigenous cultural heritage matters.

``The department works closely with indigenous people and communities concerning road projects and requirements,’’ she said.

``It is my belief that the department have consulted with the Guppie Guppie people prior to the construction of the bridge.’‘

Moreton Bay Regional councillor James Houghton (division 5) said he was unaware of native title claims on the Peninsula.

``To my knowledge any development approved by council, there is a requirement it has been cleared for native title,’’ he said.

Federal Member for Yvette D’Ath said the land for the QSM had been provided by council and said she was not aware of any specific claim on the site.


Gubbi Gubbi
Traditional Owners from the Dawn of Time
A Kippa Ring or Durrn which was used to initiate young men (kippa) into adulthood

(Note that Gubbi Gubbi do not recognise the word Bora Ring)
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